Perth Zoo’s two giraffe calves are now out and about together, much to the delight of Zoo guests.
This is the first time Perth Zoo has had two giraffe calves at the same time born as part of a regional zoo breeding program which aims to advocate and educate about declining wild giraffe populations.
A young female, Zahara, was born in September 2021, followed by half-brother, Akiki, in October.
Born to first-time Mum, Akiki has been cared for behind the scenes by zoologists after he experienced nursing difficulties and was not receiving enough nutrients needed to thrive.
Senior Keeper, Kaelene McKay, who has been helping rear the male calf, said: “Now seven weeks old, Akiki has developed into an adventurous and tall calf, measuring in at 2.3 metres.”
“Currently he is slurping his way through two litres of specially formulated giraffe milk replacer every feed and weighs in at over 125kg!”
“But importantly, we have been able to reintegrate him with the rest of the giraffe herd and he is now enjoying time exploring the outdoors and playing with Zahara.”
“It’s certainly been a labour of love caring for Akiki over the last few weeks, it takes a lot of time, many sleepless nights and lots of expertise.”
“But watching him get stronger and seeing the two calves grow-up alongside one another has made the effort worth it.”
“Zoo visitors are certainly in for a treat,” said Kaelene. “However, I would suggest patience when trying to catch a glimpse.”
“Despite their height, the calves are still young and do tire quickly, so if you cannot see them straight away pop back a bit later,” said Kaelene.
Perth Zoo are experts at giraffe breeding, having welcomed 12 calves since 1995. Many of them now reside within Eastern states zoos and New Zealand.
When older, Zahara and Akiki will likely move to other zoos in the region to share their genetics within the coordinated zoo breeding program.
Giraffe numbers in the wild have suffered a 40 per cent population decline in the past 30 years.